Budget "Must-Haves"

You can cut costs at every corner, but cutting these corners will end up costing much, much more.

Written by Charles Bevier

Of course, slicing and dicing your budget can be taken too far. Don't think you can alter how your home is supposed to be built to save money. Indeed, make sure your builder follows a detailed construction manual furnished by your log home producer, and invest in the best sealants for your climate. Here are some other areas where you shouldn't skimp:

1. Energy-efficient windows

Shop by comparing U-value ratings, which measure the amount of heat that's conducted through them. The lower a window's U-value, the more energy-efficient it will be for your home. And you'll save on heating and cooling bills later.

2. An energy-efficient HVAC system

You've opted to build your home with logs, which saves a ton of energy each year. But don't go low-dollar on your HVAC system. These units come with yellow tags that rate their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE. The least efficient is 78 AFUE; the most efficient is 98.6 AFUE.

3. Abundant light sources

Because wood absorbs light, you'll need roughly twice the lumens of a conventional home. It's imperative that your home's wiring be installed during construction (retrofitting afterwards is sometimes impossible and always expensive). Use low-cost fixtures to save money—or invest in long-lasting, energy efficient fixtures that save money over time in your energy bill.

4. CAT 5 Wiring

Wiring your home with inexpensive Category 5 cable will enable you to adapt to changing technology outside the home, especially if you want high-speed Internet, satellite TV and digital entertainment systems. Have the cable installed in each room and the basement.